Five years ago, making a Swingers reference would’ve seem dated. (Now, I’d like to think it’s simply a wistful throwback to a time when Vince Vaughn was still America’s sweetheart.) Here’s something else that’s changed since 2008: Back then, nearly half of all American workers were living paycheck to paycheck. Today, however, that number is down to almost a third.
According to an annual CareerBuilder survey, 36 percent of workers report that they always or usually live paycheck to paycheck—a recession-era low, down from its peak of 46 percent in 2008 and 40 percent in 2012.
Overall, the nationwide survey of nearly 3,000 full-time, private sector U.S. workers showed an increase in financial stability and confidence among workers. According to the survey:
- 24 percent of workers never live paycheck to paycheck – a slight uptick from the 23 percent who said the same last year.
- 82 percent have been able to make ends meet every month this past year – up from 80 percent year.
- 70 percent say they feel more fiscally responsible post-recession.
Splurge Vs. Save: How Workers Spend Their Money
When it comes to savings and retirement, more workers are setting aside savings each month – 75 percent in 2013 versus 73 percent in 2012 – while fewer workers have had to reduce their contributions to retirement plans or personal savings—17 percent in 2013 compared to 20 percent in 2012.
And while nearly half of workers (49 percent) still feel the need to cut back on leisure activities, the number is significantly lower than the 59 percent who reported cutting back last year.
You Can Have Their Domino’s, But Don’t Take Their ‘Breaking Bad’
When it comes to what they’re willing to give up to save some cash, more than a third of workers say they stopped eating out (36 percent) or drove less (34 percent) in the last year. There are just some things, however, workers refuse to give up:
- Internet connection: 55 percent
- Driving: 41 percent
- Pet: 36 percent
- Smart phone: 29 percent
- Cable: 24 percent
- Travel: 10 percent
- Going out to eat: 9 percent
A Sign of Things to Come?
According to Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, the drop in reports of living paycheck to paycheck indicate job security and spending power are on the rise as the labor market continues to improve. “As more workers join the ranks of the gainfully employed, we expect these positive trends to continue,” Haefner said in a statement for the press release.
Easing Employees’ Financial Burden: Three Ways to Help
Despite these results, Americans’ money woes are far from over – and that’s where you come in: When employees are worried about their finances, it can take a toll on their productivity. Use the following tips to help employees better manage their finances – and reap the benefits for your business, too.
- Get creative with benefits: Maybe you can’t offer on-site laundry or free lunches every day like some bigger companies, but perhaps you can spring for lunch once a month, or offer flexible spending accounts, wellness benefits, retail discounts and/or transit reimbursement Every little bit helps, and employees will appreciate the effort, so long as you…
- Remind employees to take advantage of their benefits: Make sure employees are aware of the cost-saving benefits available to them. Send out weekly emails or set up meetings between departments and HR to discuss these benefits and answer any questions they have. Ultimately, you want to…
- Empower them with education: Help your employees take control of their own finances with an employee assistance program where workers can go to for financial advice, or consider inviting financial planning professionals to come speak and answer questions. Providing them with free financial planning resources such as classes or webinars is another cost-effective option.
Forget what you think you know about HR... it's all about to change.
Sign up to start getting exclusive content designed to empower you with the insight necessary to go from HR professional to strategic business partner.